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MSs set to vote on Senedd expansion plans

08 May 2024 4 minute read
The Chamber – Senedd Cymru Welsh Parliament

Emily Price

Members of the Senedd will vote on plans for more politicians and a new voting system following a final debate on reform legislation later today.

All political parties will take part in the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill vote which if passed will see the number of MSs increased from 60 to 96 by the next Senedd election in 2026.

The Senedd reform package was agreed between the Welsh Labour Government and Plaid Cymru.

Supporters of the major overhaul say the extra politicians are needed in order for the Welsh Parliament to function effectively.

But the Welsh Conservatives have voiced strong opposition to the prospect of 36 more politicians in Cardiff Bay saying the money should be spent on doctors, nurses and teachers instead.

Figures suggest the cost of the extra politicians could amount to as much as £17.8m extra a year with a set up cost of around £8m.

The amounts to around 0.07% of the £24bn total annual Welsh budget.

The proposals are expected to be voted through by the majority of the Senedd on Wednesday (May 8).

Tory MSs have said they plan to vote against the proposals.

More politicians 

Welsh Conservative MS for South Wales East, Natasha Asghar said: “I will be voting against Labour and Plaid’s plans to expand the Welsh Parliament today.

“Instead of spending £120m on 36 extra politicians, that money should be spent in areas like health and education. Wales needs more doctors, nurses, teachers & dentists – not politicians.”

Concerns have also been raised about the controversial voting system that would be used to elect more members to the expanded Senedd.

The Closed List system will see votes being cast for political parties rather than individual candidates.

Wales’ 32 constituencies will be paired to create 16 with six MSs elected from each and seats being allocated to parties in proportion to the votes cast.

Calls have been made for the controversial system to be scrapped because it reduces voter choice and creates no direct lines of accountability with electors.

The Welsh Government says the Bill will include a mechanism to review the new system after the 2026 Senedd election.

Plaid Cymru told Nation.Cymru they have long supported calls for a single transferable vote in Senedd elections but a compromise was needed in order to move forward with Senedd Reform alongside the Welsh Government.

If passed, the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill will also:

  • Decrease the length of time between Senedd ordinary general elections from five to four years.
  • Increase the maximum number of Deputy Presiding Officers from one to two.
  • Increase the legislative limit on the size of the Welsh Government to 17 (plus the First Minister and Counsel General), with power to further increase the limit to 18 or 19.
  • Require candidates to, and Members of, the Senedd to be resident in Wales (by disqualifying candidates and Members who are not registered to vote in a Senedd constituency).
  • Provide a mechanism for the Seventh Senedd’s consideration of job-sharing of offices relating to the Senedd (by requiring the Llywydd in the Seventh Senedd to propose the establishment of a Senedd committee to review specified matters).
  • Repurpose and rename the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales; provide the renamed Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru (DBCC) with the functions needed to establish new Senedd constituencies and undertake ongoing reviews of Senedd constituency boundaries; and provide instructions for the DBCC to follow when undertaking boundary reviews.
  • Provide for review of the operation and effect of the new legislative provisions following the 2026 election (by requiring the Llywydd after the election to propose the establishment of a Senedd committee to review specified matters).

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Philip Bowyer
Philip Bowyer
13 days ago

Has anyone outside the Senedd, ever spoken in favour of the closed list system. The Senedd is not listening.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
13 days ago

This is 25 years overdue. Due to cynical Tory Wales boundary changes that means Wales will lose 8 out of its 40 MPs at Westminster with both Scotland & NI retaining their 129 MSPs & 90 MLAs and England gaining an additional 10 MPs rising its total from 533 to 543 our Senedd Cymru has never been more important as it is now. And with the rise from 60 to 98 MSs will mean our Senedd function properly meaning members can scrutinize Welsh Government legislation. And don’t forget. With more politicians means additional staff who in turn will live and… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
13 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

What are the odds on them adding to the kitty rather than doing their best to empty it…?

Mark
Mark
13 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Do you mean ‘additional staff who will draw money from tax-payers’ pockets’?

Crwtyn Cemais
Crwtyn Cemais
13 days ago

[Please scroll down for English] Byddwn i wedi eisiau gweld nid yn unig amod yn y ddeddfwriaeth bod rhaid i bob ymgeisydd ar gyfer etholiad Senedd Cymru, yn BYW yng Nghymru, ond hefyd bod nhw wedi bod yn byw yng Nghymru am O LEIAF y 5 mlynedd blaenorol, ac os bosib wedi bod yn byw yn yr ETHOLAETH y maent yn ymgeisydd trosti hefyd. ~ I would also have liked to have seen in the legislation, not only the condition that a candidade for election to Wales’ Senedd must be LIVING in Wales but also that he/she had already lived… Read more »

T3DSK1
T3DSK1
5 days ago
Reply to  Crwtyn Cemais

an addendum also born in Wales

Mab
Mab
13 days ago

Headteachers in Blaenau Gwent have collectively warned there is “nothing else left to cut” in a dire forecast for the county borough’s schools.

They’ll be so pleased to hear that the Senedd expansion will cost roughly 500million.

Im sure NHS patients in Wales will be over the moon as well!!!

CapM
CapM
13 days ago
Reply to  Mab

Admit it you copied that “500 million” from something written on the side of a bus.

Geraint
Geraint
13 days ago
Reply to  Mab

Based on your assertion of 36 MSs costing half a billion pounds that would mean the current Senedd costs for 60 MSs comes in at nearly a billion pounds! That would mean in total that is about £1.5bn with the total budget for the Senedd for 2024 -5 being £23.7bn. The BBC has a published an estimate of it costing £17.8m and even Natasha Asghar went for £120m (I bet she’s glad she didn’t get the London gig). Perhaps you would like to give a break down of your costing that come to £500m or a reliable source so we… Read more »

Last edited 13 days ago by Geraint
Mary Adams
Mary Adams
13 days ago

What on earth makes the Senedd think that we, the actual people of Wales, either want or need another 36 politicians. We want hospitals that cure our sick, schools which provide good education to our children, safe communities to support our families, care for elderly and infirm people in their homes. 36 extra members will do nothing at all to provide these things.

Why vote
Why vote
13 days ago

Maybe Putin is using the senedd blueprint of how to run a country, both have been in power for 25 years both tell the population what is good for them, both force their ideas upon the population despite the population not agreeing with them, thankfully the senedd don’t have an army to enforce their briliant exallalent and fantastic ideas on the population for the good of the country……..yet???????????????.

Richard
Richard
13 days ago

Top Down “ mother knows best “ once again – lessons of 20 mph “ one size fits all “ not learnt.

While the “ U turn Tories “ will speak against the proposals then join in – as per their usual style.,..

,.. the party hack list system goes against everything democratic … Plaid need to be careful not to be tarred with this Labour Valley boyo proposol.

More MS members for sure – but numbers of councillors and councils need action asp

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
13 days ago

‘Plaid Cymru told Nation Cymru they have long supported calls for a single transferable vote in Senedd elections but a compromise was needed in order to move forward with Senedd Reform alongside the Welsh Government’.

What a bunch of sell outs. I bet if the condition for Senedd reform was to abandon Welsh independence Plaid would agree to it in a heartbeat.

I wonder if Plaid members and voters realise what is going on?

Last edited 13 days ago by Swn Y Mor
CapM
CapM
13 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

It needed a supermajority to get this reform through the Senedd. Without Labour support no reform. Labour ruled out the Single Transferable Vote method as a condition of their support. Grasping a conspiracy theory is no substitute for a grasp of basic maths. Also it was “abandon independence Plaid” that dragged the dead weight of Labour in Wales uphill to secure a Referendum on law making powers for the Senedd. I’m not sure but that might be why the Senedd has been able to implement this current reform. I don’t claim to know what “Plaid members and voters realise is… Read more »

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
13 days ago
Reply to  CapM

Not the ad hominem again. Where is the ‘conspiracy theory’ anyway? Have or have not Plaid Cymru buckled on the STV? I am not talking about the maths or the Senedd Reform Bill as a whole. I am talking about the STV seemingly being shelved to be replace by the closed list system. A system you may remember had a paragraph devoted to it in Martin Shiptons excellent essay from the 11th of February this year. This is together with former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Wigley expressing his concern about the proposed closed list system again in Nation Cymru from… Read more »

CapM
CapM
13 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

I don’t like closed lists either but I understand that we will have them because Labour vetoed them and not because Plaid conspired with Labour to ensure the new system was based on such lists.

CapM
CapM
13 days ago
Reply to  CapM

“Labour vetoed them” them- should have said STV

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
13 days ago
Reply to  CapM

Adam Price admitted that dropping the STV was the request from Mark Drakeford in order to get the reform bill through. Therefore Plaid have had time to mull over the ramifications of doing this, and then decided to agree to drop something that they felt strongly about. If conspiring is not the word then Plaid has certainly done a deal with the Devil.

CapM
CapM
13 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

Do you prefer the old system to the new one?

If you do make a case backing up why you think the old system was better.
If not please explain why complaining that it’s Plaid’s fault that Labour would not back STV is what you’ve chosen to do rather than taking the new system and using it to achieve a STV system.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
13 days ago
Reply to  CapM

If I was forced to choose between the two I would pick the old system. The new system gives even more power to the party apparatus at the expense of local issue candidates. It is of course not Plaids fault that Labour would not back the STV. What is Plaids fault is then going along with Labour.

Plaid should have made the public more aware of what the closed list means for them. There will be people out there who believe this reform only means more members, completely unaware of the closed list system,

CapM
CapM
13 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

 Just to clear things up by ” local issue candidates.” you don’t mean independents because over the past 6 Senedd elections 360 Senedd Members have been elected and only one has been an independent. Not exactly evidence of the old system was able to fetter the established parties. So presumably “local issue candidates” mean party candidates who are less favoured by their party and so will find themselves placed further down the party list. That will probably happen but is it that so different to the selection of candidates that happens now. If a party candidate is so out of… Read more »

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
13 days ago
Reply to  CapM

You assume correct regarding local issue candidates. ‘…and so will find themselves placed further down the party list. That will probably happen’. This is what I am saying. Of all the potential voting systems to choose, why have Plaid who wanted and pushed for STV, capitulated to Labours demand on this system? Never mind the old system for a minute this ‘new’ system is terrible. Unless I have misunderstood there is no recall system being proposed in the Senedd Reform Bill. Therefore we can have a Pincher situation or someone misbehaving or being corrupt, and the voters cannot recall them.… Read more »

CapM
CapM
12 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

“why have Plaid who wanted and pushed for STV, capitulated to Labours demand on this system?” My guess is that ultimately it was because they were able to do the maths. I think it’s probably better that recall etc (and there are quite a few etcs.) be dealt with separately when there’s an opportunity to consider and legislate for SM conduct in it’s entirety. Rather than cobble together something which would at least in part be made up with what ARTDavies chucked in to try and derail the whole process.  As it was I imagine that getting a supermajority… Read more »

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
12 days ago
Reply to  CapM

Hypothetical question, if Plaid had backed the Conservatives, thereby removing the two thirds supermajority the bill does not become law.

Could Plaid have not then said to Labour gives us the STV and we will vote for your reform bill.

CapM
CapM
12 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

For every hypothetical question there are numerous hypothetical answers.
You’ve provided a hypothetical answer that happens to suit your opinion.

It doesn’t really get us anywhere just as a hypothetical answer of mine wouldn’t either..

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
13 days ago

Some people know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. In my view the expansion in the number of Senedd members is essential to building a nation state. A nation state I hope will come to be when Cymru has its independence from the Conservative Party led UK Government.

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